Mentoring Program

Something Playable

Composer Name: Anthony Sheppard
Grade Level: 12
Intended For: Live Instrument Performance
Software Used: Noteflight
Instrumentation: Piano(Optional), Brass Quintet
Key: A
Meter Signature: 4/4
Tempo: 90-120
Status: Work in Progress
Noteflight URL: Website Title


#16 Travis Ramsey 2018-02-15 20:33
Wow, Anthony, you have really made some improvements! Do you like the way those cadences sound now? I think it makes more sense now that you've added a little space in. I still think that D chord in 54 wants to be longer but if you think it wants to be a single quarter note than by all means leave it as it is.
Now the work continues. I think the rest of it would benefit from the close treatment you gave the first 40 measures. I'd suggest labeling and cleaning up the second half of it. Do all your notes fit the chords?

Nice revision - I can really see this coming together!

#15 anthony sheppard 2018-02-15 07:37
Hello, again Mr.Ramsey.
I think I made most of the revisions you suggested. I thought I sent the message the other day but it looks like it did not go through. thanks again and hope to hear from you again soon!

-Anthony J. Sheppard
#14 Travis Ramsey 2018-02-13 20:24
Hi Anthony, I just posted a little info below on SUS chords. Here is what I think of the chords you labelled (thanks for doing that) and the green sections.

I hear these differently than you. I get you on the Dmin7 all the way. I'm not sure what I'd call that next measure either, but I'm hearing F# major strongly. You have F#, A#(Bb), and C# all sounding on beat 3. Maybe set that one aside for a minute (are you sure it's to be that dissonant right at the get-go?). Now the next 4 bars I hear as a big, long, extended F7. It's not FMajj 7 (there's an Eb in the key sig). Now that F7 really really wants to find its way to Bb major. And it DOES (nice job there). Measure 8 sounds like Bb to me even though you call it Dmin. Especially with that tuba opening the bar on Bb. Try taking the tuba down one more time on beat 4. Right now you have a D half, what if you did D and then low Bb, both quarters? Does that resolve in your ears?
Going on, let's leave 9-13 alone a bit and clean up measure 14. That Adim7 is a really powerful chord and it wants to go to G minor. I think you'll like the resolution much better if you get a G in the tuba though. That puts the chord in its root position. What if the tuba played a low G whole note in 15?
So all I've done is look at what chords you developed, find the biggest driving forces, and choose their resolution. First we found a giant F7 and brought it to Bb. Then we found an A dim7 with lots of F#s and brought it to G minor. Does that work for you?

Now, the green spots. For the most part your ideas here are good but they need more time. I'd suggest inserting one bar of whole notes at each place. When you get something that works you can blend it together later with some passing notes.

GREEN at 24. You have a really nice start to a cadence here with a pretty solid D dominant (which wants to go to G. Two choices I see are (1) insert one measure, all whole notes, all the same except bring trombone down one more step to A. (2) resolve it to G minor. Again, insert one more measure and plop in a G minor triad. I know triads are boring, but extended chords by their nature don't sound as restful as triads.
GREEN at 30. I think this one just needs a little more time, too. You could try giving just ONE voice a whole note G in the inserted bar, and then adding the others. Might be a cool effect. My vote: horn.
GREEN at 34. Loving the D-C D-C D-C idea. Again insert one more bar and give one more player a D-C, but in slower note values.
GREEN at 37. That G in trumpet 1 is making your low A/F# sound wonky. Can you give those guys a rest just until the trumpets done with G? Like a quarter rest will do it.
GREEN at 47. If it were me, I'd save that tuba's Gb (should be F#) for the next bar, a new one I'd insert. Call the end 47 G minor (change trombone too?) and then the new bar would be all D major, F# in the tuba.
GREEN at 50. Another thing to try is to just double everyone's duration here. eighths become quarters, quarters halves, etc. Maybe write it out first so you don't lose your place, though.
GREEN at 52. You're using a D chord here and your next chord is G minor. I suspect that the missing ingredient is a leading tone, F#. Does that give it the punch you're looking for?
#13 Travis Ramsey 2018-02-13 19:58
Hi Anthony, in this post I'd like to dig a little deeper and tell you more about those "sus" chords. Did you know that "sus" is short for "suspension," which is a term the jazzers (and others) borrowed from the study of counterpoint? So by all means use them ... but I'd like to teach you how they were originally used. the listener will expect them to be handled a certain way. Of course it's up to you whether you want to give it to the listener the way they expect it or not. The basic idea is this. Let's say you have two chords. You pick a note in the first chord that ISN'T in the second chord. Instead of moving that note down to its proper place, you delay (or "suspend") it by a beat or two. Then, you move it down to where it belongs. And they sound just lovely. It works out the the most common ones are called 7-6 and 4-3. They get this name because the "correct" interval is a 6th or a 3rd above the bass, but the suspension is one step higher: a 7th or a 4th. I'll include a picture.
The short version is this: plan on your listener "wanting" every SUS note, be it 4th, 7th, or even 2, to go down one step to a chord-tone. So, a Csus4 has an F in it and the listener really really wants it to drop to an E/Eb. You're the composer and so you get to decide if you want to give them that resolution or not. Here's a picture of what I mean.

#12 anthony sheppard 2018-02-13 10:46
I tried to mark the places where I think the chord needs to be held longer or that sounded like the chord was almost there, in the color... but needs a little adjustment to sound like it is flowing into the next measure smoothly. I marked them with the color green.

-Anthony J. Sheppard
#11 anthony sheppard 2018-02-13 10:40
Hello Mr. Ramsey,

I will not add any more to the ending, as I have it fully figured out, how I want it to end, of course. It just took me a while to realize that it needed to be adjusted to be read as I wanted it to end. As for naming the notes... well I over thought it and just decided to label the general chord that was in the measure. I also agree that in some places that the Chords need to be held longer, but in some other places I intentionally made passing chords (But, I cannot remember why I chose to do so, But I did.). I tried adjusting some of the chords in some places and I was not satisfied... So I changed them back. I did, however, label the first eight measures with their general chord( I think) and hope that we were on the right track. I will note that the chords that I seem to have wanted were not originally planned out or anything, so I found the chord choice I chose very interesting. I will continue to do so with the rest of the score. Hope to hear from you and again, thank you for all the time you have put in to help me!

-Anthony J. Sheppard
#10 Travis Ramsey 2018-02-12 19:58
I see your resolutions coming along! One thing that will help them even more is to let each chord sit for a while. You did this at m. 20, but a lot of the other ones are just a single quarter note which isn't enough to give us the feeling of rest.
NOW, here comes the hard part. You've written already nearly 3 minutes of music, which is the maximum time limit. Now our job is to make all those great moving parts make sense. Think of it as making a sculpture. You've now carved the basic, rough shape out of the marble and there's a ton of chipping away to do. So, here's what I'd suggest.
There are some exceptions to this rule, but you should spell a triad on every beat. (If it has two eight notes, the second one doesn't have to fit in.) Now there's tons of rules to how to do this but if you tackle only your first 8 or 10 measures, can you explain what each chord is? For instance, in measure 6 your first beat (spelled bottom to top) is C-F-D-G. Your second beat is C-G-Eb-G. Your third beat is D-A-A-F. So the second and third beats are triads (C minor and D minor), but the first beat is not. When the audience hears this collection of notes they aren't likely to understand it very well. I'd suggest you take a fine-toothed comb to a very short section and see if you can spell chords on every beat. It's hard and time-consuming work but the end result will be a composition that really sparkles.
Looking forward to hearing what you do with it with this approach.
Also, please don't add any more to the end - you'll be pushing up against the time limit and I don't want your piece to not be considered because it's too long!

#9 anthony sheppard 2018-02-12 10:36
Hello, again, Mr. Ramsey.

Thank you so much for your suggestions. I cannot lie, the change from the G to a D in some places just made me feel so weird inside( In a good way!) I also made a few other corrections and changed a few notes on the ending (the D was too tempting and fit almost perfectly). Hope to hear from you again soon and Thank you so much!

-Anthony J. Sheppard
#8 Travis Ramsey 2018-02-10 20:32
read this post second, read #7 first

And here's the "more." Some of it is nit-picky stuff. And all of it is probably less important than those resolutions, but here goes.

First, about the trombone. Let's assume that it will be played on a "tenor" trombone. While some of these can play that low D, not all can. I'd suggest the low F being the lowest comfortable note for trombone. Also I wouldn't suggest putting the trombone lower than the tuba.

One other thing that you should correct is that whenever you have written a G-flat, it needs to be an F-sharp. I think you're getting the idea of those resolutions but I don't hear them as resolving just yet. Your use of C# going to D in the middle is correct.

Third, it's common to avoid having more than one part play a leading tone at the same time. (The leading tone in G minor is F#, but when you use C# to go to D in 29-31 that one counts too.) It can be difficult to play in tune if it's doubled is all.

Fourth, please position the horn staff below the trumpets and above the trombone so the staves are in order from highest to lowest.

Lastly, it always helps to be inspired by the great masters. Here's my guy, Palestrina. This is what perfect counterpoint sounds like (in my opinion). The melodies are independent and the harmonies make perfect sense. And the effect is overwhelming, and humbling. Enjoy!
#7 Travis Ramsey 2018-02-10 20:23
Hi Anthony,

I think you are writing some really great stuff. I'm pleased that you haven't fallen into the habit of just churning out chords -- instead, your parts each have a real identity and they move independently. This is a double-edged sword, however. The good news is that it makes your composition sound very mature and nuanced. The bad news is that, well, it's harder to do! The trickiest thing will be to make all of those moving parts still fit together into harmonies that the listener can understand. Another challenge with this style of writing is that you'll need to pay special attention to the idea of resolution and cadence. Simply put, the music needs to breathe, and this "breath" comes from both a pause in the rhythmic motion and a resting one some easily understood harmony. Usually it looks like a simple triad, on a long note, held by everyone. Not all the time, but at least at a few places. Otherwise the music can seem to just wash over us like a paragraph with no punctuation. Let's tackle a few resolutions today.

On to your music!
I feel like the opening is really powerful. I love the play of the C and Eb against the D's in measures 2 and 3. There's lots of independent contrary motion and (especially with the trombone syncopations) some nice rhythms there. But my ears really expected you to wind down to a cadence around measure 8 or 9. You * almost * give us a cadence in 15. The rhythm stops, but there is such an uncertain chord here that we don't really feel the resolution. Could you put a low G in the tuba to put that triad in root position?
Measure 24 is SO close to being a cadence. You have all the right ingredients. Try it out like this and see if you like it. I'd like you to audition a D major chord here. Just see if you like it taking away the last tuba notes in the bar (Gflat, G) and replacing with a low D half note.
OK, the part 29-33 is really good. I love the shift to putting the focus on D instead of G and again the interplay of the rhythms. But it's just DYING for a resolution to G! Do you like the sound if you simply carry the tuba one bar further and add a low G to the first half of bar 34? With all that focus on D our ears really want you to come back to G.
There are other resolutions and opportunities to tackle but let's focus on these first ones for now. I will say that the writing in 34-40 is I think your best yet. (But a cadence around 43 is needed.)
I have a few more comments to share with you on a more global note but I'll do that in a separate post so you can keep things separate. Summary of this part is, great independence and rhythmic sense, but let's work on cadences to give it some space. More in a minute.


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